811 before you dig

 811 before you dig


 Marking underground utility lines


 Using your utilities safely


 Related links


If you plan to dig anywhere, from home projects to large construction jobs, you must contact 811 before you dig. Thousands of miles of pipeline, wires and cables for critical services such as electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, communications and utilities are located underground. Damaging these lines could result in large utility outages, expensive repair costs, and could cause injury, and even death.

The Process

Premark your dig area. Using white paint or white flags, mark the exact area where you plan to dig.

Make the call. Call 8-1-1, or click at Colorado811.org at least 3 business days before you dig. Colorado 811 will notify affected utility owners of your intent to dig. Colorado 811 may also provide you with information for some utility owners for whom you will need to notify of your intent to dig. Be sure to provide access to the property, including having gates unlocked, and pets secured. If there is a problem with access, a meet request may be processed to ensure accessibility.

Wait for locates. Utility owners have two full business days, not including the day of the request, to respond to your request for locates. Professional locators will respond within that time to mark the location of underground utilities in your dig area with flags, paint or both. We provide an email response back to the requestor upon completion of the request. Be sure to read all information provided.

Dig carefully. Always dig with care. Utility lines are within 18 inches on either side of the mark left by utility owners, and remember the marks to not indicate depth. Carefully hand dig with non-mechanized equipment around the marked areas, and consider designing your project to avoid digging close to underground utilities.

Respect and protect the marks. The marks are good while visible, or for 30 days. You must request re-marks if your locate ticket has expired, or if your marks have been destroyed.

If you have contacted 811 and have questions about your marks, please call our locating department at 719-668-7205.

To schedule a free damage prevention safety seminar for your group or business, please call 719-668-7344.

What to do if you damage an underground utility line

  1. Stop work immediately. Don’t attempt to shut off service or repair, clamp or bury the damaged line.
  2. If you know you’ve hit a natural gas line, or if you’re unsure, warn others around you and leave the area immediately. Natural gas is extremely dangerous and flammable when it leaks and a line is exposed.
  3. If an injury has occurred, call 9-1-1.
  4. Call us at 448-4800 to inform us of the damage, and we will dispatch the proper crew to repair the damaged line.
  5. Call 8-1-1 to inform the Colorado One Call center of the damage - have your original locate request ticket number available.
  6. Wait for proper crews to make repairs, they will inform you when it’s safe to continue your project.

Safety around natural gas

Natural gas is colorless and is odorized to smell like rotten eggs or skunks. Natural gas is combustible, and may become explosive when trapped in an enclosed space. Some ignition sources are light switches, garage door openers, pagers, cell phones, vehicles and other running equipment.

If you hit a natural gas line:

  • Leave the area and warn others
  • Call us at 448-4800 or 9-1-1
  • Remove ignition sources, such as cell phones and cigarettes
  • Do not shut off, squeeze or clamp the gas line
  • Do not bury the broken or damaged line
  • Do not return until the area is declared safe

Safety around electricity

Electricity always seeks a path to ground. When you become a part of this path you can be injured or killed. Conductors include water, your body, tree branches, poles and ladders.

  • Assume all electric lines are energized.
  • Never touch any utility wire and do not touch anyone who is in contact with an electric wire.
  • Never enter substations.
  • Never disconnect or reconnect electric service lines.
  • If equipment comes in contact with an electric line:
    • Move the equipment away from the line if you can do so safely
    • Warn others to stay away; anyone on the ground who touches the equipment is in danger of being killed or injured
    • Stay on the equipment until an emergency responder indicates it is safe to get off
    • Jump clear without touching the ground and equipment at the same time if fire forces you off the equipment
    • Hop away with both legs together​